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Courthouse Falls

Situated near the scene of a Cherokee myth, this waterfall offers both scenery and folklore, but beware the fast currents below.

Springing from the west slope of Devil’s Courthouse—the rocky summit where the giant Judaculla held his trials, according to Cherokee legend—and fed by none other than Courthouse Creek, Courthouse falls is popular among photographers, but not for swimmers. The 35-foot cascade, at the head of a small ampitheater carved from the rock face, appears to fall into a solid swimming spot, but in reality could sweep you under with its heady undercurrents. So perhaps its best to treat this historic spot as a museum: Look, but don’t touch.

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courthouse falls splashing into water below in jackson county

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The trail begins across the road and follows an old logging railroad grade down the river-right side of the creek. After about 0.3 mile, it starts to swing right and passes an obvious side path on the left. The side path leads to the base of the falls.

Leave No Trace — Seven Principles
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

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Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails.
Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall. Rocks can be slippery and it’s easy to lose your balance especially with bare feet. Currents near waterfalls can be extremely swift even in areas further upstream.
Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden beneath the surface of the water. Often waterfall pools have swirling water or currents that can drag and keep you underwater.
Even if you have seen other people enjoy playing around waterfalls, be aware they have been lucky to escape unharmed. Waterfalls are constantly changing with varying water flows and erosion of the rocks around them. The current from one place to the next may be faster than you anticipate and the arrangement of rocks or other debris such as logs in the plunge pool is ever changing.

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